Chapter 3:


The Legacy of Xaero: Refrain from Reminiscence

 “Doctor Orr, is everything okay?” Janus asked her. His concerned face popped into her view, as she was nursing her drink. She didn’t know what it was called. All Adero knew was that Juniper promised it would make the hurt go away for the weekend.

Early on in her employment at the Academy, Adero had learned the faculty maintained a private bar in their lounge. While she had dined with other teachers, there hadn’t been any compelling reason for her to consume any alcohol. Until now, that was. She didn’t even realize Unimus could get drunk, but sure was glad when it kicked in.

“Oh, hi Jan,” Adero mumbled, smiling in spite of the turmoil she was feeling. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Except for the fact my boss is a monster.”

Janus pulled himself a seat next to her. She appreciated his presence. Plus, with how drunk she was, he looked even cuter than before. “Did something happen between you and Alister?”

“Yeah, yeah you could say that,” she said, slurring the words in her inebriated state. “The good Headmaster wants me to risk my license to save her grandson.” Adero frowned. “I mean, his granddaughter.”

The human took a hard look at her drink, then returned his gaze to her. “Just how long have you been drinking?”

She thought for a moment. “Uh… A couple- couple hours I think? Juniper was a real gal pal and keeps refilling me when I’m getting low. He’s a good guy.”

“Hey Doc, mind if I see that glass?” Janus asked, his voice suddenly turning gruffer, more hoarse.

“For you, gladly.” Adero exclaimed, leaning onto his shoulder and passing the drink over. “Wanna try some? Juniper can hook you up and maybe we can–“ A hiccup cut her off, and she devolved into a fit of giggles as Harvey took her drink and smashed it into the wall. “Okay, that was hot! Did I ever – hic! – tell you you’re pretty hot?”

“Doc, focus,” Harv gently chided, though Adero could tell he was blushing from her compliment. “This isn’t professional.”

“Is it?” She fluttered her lashes at him. “If I’m going to lose my license, I may as well do everything I want to do that would make me lose it.”

Sweat began to bead Harvey’s brow as she puckered up for a kiss. Firm strong hands found themselves on her shoulders and pushed her back into her chair. “Doc, I’m flattered,” He said. “Really, I am. And I won’t say the feeling ain’t mutual. But your drunk. If this is something you want to pursue, I want it after you’ve given me and Jan the all-clear to work here.”

Even in her inebriated torpor, the human made sense. As much as she wanted to rock his world, it wasn’t right. At least for now. But Adero promised herself she was going to have a piece of that ass the moment Janus was no longer her patient.

“Wait…” Doctor Orr frowned for a moment. It was getting harder to focus without her drink. “How did you get in here? You aren’t a school doctor yet!”

“You can thank Professor Nim – I mean Venus,” Harv stumbled. He even sounded cute cutting short. “She gave me the key to the lounge. Said you needed me.”

“Hehe, more like inside me!” she said giggling half heartedly as her eyes started to feel increasingly heavier. Was it nap time already?

“Stop it,” Harvey said firmly. “How about we get you to your room so you can get some shut eye?”

But Adero was already asleep, figuratively dead to the world.

* * *

Shortly after the start of the Third Age, when knowledge of the Unimus became widespread and they could no longer remain in hiding, a special ability was placed under heavy regulation. This ability, originally utilized for Remis, and their eventual descendants the Unimus, allowed them to adapt to their environments in ways faster than they ever could through natural acclimation and even restore the memories of amnesiacs.


The ability, originally a boon to their species, became an indictment once it was realized that they could not just swap memories, but also manipulate them as well. Tit was no wonder it had been abused by the race to hide themselves among humanity for nearly the entirety of the Second Age. No one would trust a race who could take away or even fabricate false narratives that would be wholeheartedly embraced even in light of overwhelming fact contrary to the narrative. Quite often it was used as a dark mark against the Unimus in the early days of the Third Age, when the five races were still slow to trust each other and prejudices were not yet eliminated. While it had been common practice for Unimus to use this ability during the Second Age, it had since faded from common knowledge and practical use at the outset of the Third Age and the entirety of the Fourth.

And Alister Light wants her to break with taboo to erase Crystal’s participation in the TechnoWar. He purposely waited until she had gotten far enough along in treating his granddaughter to reveal the truth about her condition. Now the odds were stacked against her. She could defy his visions and manipulations and keep her license, but then that would mean Crystal would die under her care. But if she did save the child, everything she had ever worked for would be for nothing; her the oath she took as a therapist would be null and void. Regardless of her choice, a black mark would be leveled against her. Alister was a cruel man, but under similar circumstances, would anyone else act differently to save someone they loved? She didn’t know the answer, and every attempt to entertain the thought made her feel nauseous.

The one thing Alister did warn her however, was the cause of Crystal’s depression. The catalyst was unique to every branching future he saw. It could be recurring nightmares of the war. Anxiety developing from Alinyah’s separation. Or even witnessing a dark future that may or may not come to pass. Venus did after all reveal that a vision is informed by the emotions, knowledge and understanding of the person receiving it.

But Adero had a feeling she already knew the catalyst for Crystal’s spiral: An almost imperceptible reaction to seeing her friend and mentor Venus Nimbus confined to a wheelchair. Looking into her situation, she had learned the elf had been captured by Unimus forces and experimented on, and losing her legs in the process. Also, she had refused every offer to have prosthetics made for her in order to regain her original mobility, either out of pride or a newfound disdain for technology as the Unimus began to represent them. But with every occasion the three of them met, Crystal’s enthusiasm and skill began to ebb.

“Crystal?” Venus noticed her dwindling participation. “Is everything alright?”

The little girl made no answer, which was answer enough for Adero.

“Venus, I need you to leave.” Dr. Orr said suddenly. “Training is over for today.”

The elf looked like she wanted to protest, but after glancing over at Crystal again, decided against it and wheeled herself out of Adero’s office.

Feeling her heart grow heavier, Adero knelt beside Crystal. “I think I know what’s happening,” she told the human in a calm and reassuring tone. “Can you tell me how you’re feeling?”

Nothing. The energy Crystal normally projected was gone. She looked like she was staring into the distance, unsure what she was seeing. Apathy hung about her like a shawl.

Adero glanced over to the door, glad it was closed. She hoped it would stay that way for what she was about to do next.

“Crystal, are you feeling depressed?” she asked gently. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”


Why me? Adero mourned. I don’t want to do this. I… I don’t have the experience to fix this the normal way.

Wiping away the tears that threatened to overcome her, Dr. Orr put her hands on Crystal’s shoulders. “Sis, I might have a way to help you,” she whispered. “But I need your permission, alright? I need to hear you say it. Say, 'Go ahead, sis,' or something like that.”

The human didn’t respond. If anything, her thousand yard stare was growing farther towards the horizon. For a brief moment, she wondered if Crystal was only unfocused or if she actually saw anything.

“Mmm,” Adero bit her lip. “Okay, just nod. Just nod and I’ll help you. I’ll fix you. No more pain, okay? I’ll take the hurt away.”

Crystal remained unresponsive. Finally, her eyes rolled back and her head fell forward. Adero caught her. “Good enough, she murmured, pulling Crystal close. She extended a connector from her index finger, and just as Crystal’s vision described, inserted it into the girl’s ear.